The Path

A fun night out with my brother, Bob.

A fun night out with my brother, Bob.

I’ve heard the concept,  “Everything that is happening to you, right now, is a result of your own thinking”, for a long time, and I’ve believed it to be true. I could even see how through unconscious, unhappy, thoughts, I’ve called many unpleasant things into my life. And even though I’ve accepted this truth, it always seemed a little bit like a punishing, condemning (of myself) approach to the challenging situations that I was currently struggling with. It felt like there was a big cosmic finger wagging at me saying, “OK, missy. You have created this mess and now you must pay the price!” It was also a vaguely threatening voice and the fear-message it carried was,”Don’t do that again!”

So I tried really hard to be different; to stop making mistakes, to be worthy, nice, honest, loving, open, accepting ….. I tried really hard to be a “spiritual person” so I wouldn’t get punished again, but just when I thought I finally figured out how to live without struggle, BAM, something would happen and I’d feel all of the old familiar emotions; blame, doubt, anger, self-loathing and discouragement. A voice in my head would taunt me with thoughts like, “You are just never going to get this are you? And why should you? You don’t have good enough thoughts, you eat a crappy diet, you’re undisciplined, you don’t meditate the right way, you’re way too selfish, you’re not that nice, you have a warped sense of humor…..” But the worst thought was, “You are never going to awaken.”

Then one day, I realized that all of the struggles I’d gone through, and were going currently going through, were things that I had chosen, not consciously, but at the deeper/higher level of my being. In a flash of insight I realized that the struggles were the necessary elements for awakening. I also realized that I had taken on certain challenges with the express purpose of overcoming them as a part of my unique path to awakening. I could see that they were actually the teachers that I had called forth.

Suddenly the vision came to me of a huge playing field/obstacle course and I could see each of us choosing a different and unique strand on the grid/line though the labyrinth, with all of the ups and downs, mountains and valleys, rivers, trenches, burned bridges, and dead ends, that ultimately led to the goal. There wasn’t a straight line for anyone playing this game and this was perfect, but for most of my life, I felt like I was on the wrong path and would look around at others and wonder why I couldn’t be like them…especially those who appeared to be awake. Then I’d try to get on their path by reading their books, attending their services or meetings, meditating in just a certain way, repeating certain mantras or prayers that they said were “the key”, signing up for (yet another) workshop or retreat that promised to open my heart, mind, eyes and ears. I’d feel inspired for a while but when the struggles (in my mind) returned, I would feel like a failure again….and hate the path that I was on.

But one day this changed and I knew that “the way” (my way) had been so clear, so simple, so perfectly tuned to who I was, that I had missed it. In that moment, my heart, mind, eyes and ears were opened to a new level of knowing that, yes, I created my realities and struggles, but instead of feeling this as a discouraging concept, I could see that this was the path to awakening and enlightenment and that the point of this game/life wasn’t to avoid, wish away, or hate struggles, but simply to be open to the Truth of what they were trying to show me. It was such a “lowly” seeming path that in all of my reaching and striving to be a better (i.e. different) person, I had missed it.

I could finally see that they had been trying to guide and lovingly teach me, for all of my life, but since I kept hating them, calling them bad, believing they were despicable, unfortunate, mistakes (much the way I viewed myself) they became tormentors for me and evidence of what I was doing wrong which blinded me to the truth of what they were/are: loving portals to awakening, expansion, abundance, and Good, not here to teach me a lesson (in the old strict, school master way) but to bring me to Heaven/Enlightened Consciousness/The Field of All Good/My Higher Self/God.

My path is not a mistake… and neither is yours. The so-called struggles cease to be struggles when I welcome them and with an open and curious mind, listening to and following their wisdom…wisdom that once gleaned, can be helpful to others, but not so I can say, “Walk in my steps”, but walk in and embrace your unique path, be open to it, for it will teach you everything you’ve been wanting to know, bring you your true heart’s desire, and finally make you grateful for who and what you are.

 

 

This entry was posted on January 27, 2015. 17 Comments

Awaken!…and let everyone else awaken in their own time

BE

Be Well (this painting is for sale on MY ARTWORK page)

 

I had a dream the other night that confirmed something I’ve known for a long time, “Don’t try to wake anyone up.” When we discover great truths, it is so tempting to want to teach, show, or even push others into realizing what we have seen, but the very thought that someone is “asleep” spiritually, and that it is my job to try to wake them up, only tells me one thing, that I have, once again, fallen asleep. It is extremely arrogant to think that I know how or when another should progress spiritually, and in my dream, I also saw that it was dangerous as these sleeping beings, after being nudged to wake up, actually turned on me quite viciously.

I was 30 years old when I found sobriety and AA. I felt like I had stepped out of hell into a whole new world and was truly dismayed when others, especially those in my immediate family, weren’t interested in this for themselves. But over the years I stopped trying to convince anyone else to get sober, and join AA, and then those people, who I had worked so hard to try to corral into my way of life, amazingly found their way to sobriety. At one point someone very close to me (who ended up getting sober about 5 years after I did) told me, “It wasn’t what you said that made me want to get sober. It was seeing how you changed.”

When I am asleep, I see all sorts of trouble. I see how people need to change, what is wrong with them, how they aren’t living up to their potential, how they make their own, and my, life difficult….on and on, the list of what is wrong with them goes on, and I’m never quite aware that all of the trouble I see is what I believe about myself.

As I have begun to awaken, I see a world that is not full of problems needing to be solved, troubles needing to be corrected, or people needing to be enlightened….by me. When I am awake, I know that my work in this world, in this lifetime, is just this; to awaken, which means to me, to do what I love. Because as I awaken I literally see differently and it isn’t a huge effort to shut my mouth, contain my frustration, or harness my emotional reactions. When I awaken, my actions feel like Love and to my great delight, they are almost always, received by others that way.

 

“Living more in harmony with who we truly are isn’t just forcing ourselves to repeat positive thoughts. It really means being and doing things that make us happy, things that arouse our passion and bring out the best in us, things that make us feel good—and it also means loving ourselves unconditionally.  When we’re flowing in this way and feeling upbeat and energized about life, we’re in touch with our magnificence. When we can find that within us, things really start to get exciting and we find synchronicities happening all around us. As I’ve said, we’re one with the universe, our purpose is to be our magnificent selves, and the external world is only a reflection of what’s inside us.” pp 159 from the boo, Dying To Be Me: My Journey from cancer, to near death, to true healing” by Anita Moorjani

moving at the speed of Love

Luke loving the snow

Luke loving the snow

I was driving through some snow to northern Vermont on Monday, needing to move slower than usual but feeling OK about that when half way through my trip, a truck stopped in front of me for no apparent reason. Then I realized that the truck was signalling for a school bus to pull out in front of him. It seemed like the school bus driver wasn’t paying attention because it was not moving. After what seemed like an eternity (maybe a minute) the school bus pulled out and the truck, instead of driving ahead, turned off to the right. “What was the point of that?” I thought, a little unhappily as now I was moving even slower behind the bus that was destined to stop every half mile to let kids off.

After about a mile, the bus slowed down to let the first child off. I noticed a woman all bundled up (since it was 10 degrees out) standing on the side of the road in front of a very run-down looking home. She was holding a large dog by the collar. The bus stopped in front of this house and I could see the dog’s tail begin to wag excitedly as the woman held up her hand and waved it back and forth in a happy greeting. A few seconds later, a very small boy ran from the bus to the waiting woman and dog and they all trotted happily toward their home.

As I started to drive again, I could feel tears welling up and the thoughts, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, for slowing me down. Thank you for allowing me to witness this beautiful moment of love…just thank you” flooded over me. A few minutes later, an eagle flew across the road and landed in a nearby tree. What an incredible world we live in; when I find myself rushing, I get gentle nudges (this time) in the form of a considerate truck driver, to help me slow down and appreciate life. The second half of my trip was very different from the first. I was no longer rushing… even a little. I felt supported, loved, and almost carried along.

Help is all around me/us, at every moment, and in every circumstance. We don’t even need to ask for it, we just need to recognize it when it presents itself, and accept the gift.

Love one another and help others to rise to higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.” Sai Baba

 

 

Also, below is a flyer for a very interesting writer’s workshop in Burlington, VT on January 31st. More information can be found on The League of Vermont Writer’s website, www.leagueofvermontwriters.org (if you are planning on attending, please let me know so we can meet in person!)

 

Join us!

Members $48 Nonmembers $55

Registration includes morning refreshments and lunch

LEAGUE OF VERMONT WRITERS’ WINTER PROGRAM

Featuring:

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

Have You Seen Any Good Books Lately? Writers in the Visual/Digital Age:

In the last century or so, our culture has shifted away from print and towards cinematics. A number of really first-rate TV shows have been created from books, some of them arguably equal or superior to the original. Superseding this visual age, is the digital one, where there are new ways of combining print and image, still and other wise. So, while the talk always seems to be that the book is dying, and therefore writers growing ever anxious that they’re becoming superfluous, this isn’t the case. Writers won’t ever be unnecessary or obsolete, but they may play a different role in this visual/digital culture we are in. ‘Have You Seen Any Good Books Lately?’ will enlighten writers to what they’re facing in today’s multi-media age, how to keep up with and engage with these new mediums and formats, and ultimately, how to redefine their role as ‘writer’ in the 21st century.

Stephen Kiernan

The Almost Right Word: The foundation of writing is language, though we often take for granted its tools and powers because we use them in conversation all day. Through a series of interactive exercises (and writing if time allows), we’ll examine the potency of language and how to give our writing greater specificity and strength.

The Biz: Breaking in to Publishing: As the publishing industry simultaneously innovates and consolidates, the challenges of reaching an audience and making an income from writing grow ever more complex. This interactive session will address such topics as how to find an agent, how to submit a manuscript, what an editor  is now, and what the merits and demerits of self-publishing are. Please bring questions of your own.

 

 

No problems

Esther

Years ago, I heard a spiritual teacher say, in essence, “There are no problems. All things that you think are problems are only stories that your mind has believed, labeled as a ‘problem’ and then began to worry about.” I didn’t understand what she was saying, at all, and my reaction was to become angry and dismissive of her work and of her. As I recall, I said something like, “What bull—-!”

Over the years I began to notice that anger was the response I had to things that challenged my beliefs or that I didn’t understand. Worry, anxiety, restlessness, fear that I couldn’t figure life out, fear that I’d be ridiculed by others, and fear of the future, were more “comfortable” to me than the thought that I could stop believing in problems, which just seemed like a stupid and foolhardy approach to life. But slowly, I began to change, and the radical, spiritual, truth that there are no problems began to seem like reality to me. When a “problem thought” confronted me, I would say things like, “This is not a problem” or “What if I refused to see this as a problem?”

Writing this morning, I had to check the spelling of foolhardy. I thought it was fool-hearty and corrected it, but then I paused. In the Tarot card deck, there is a card called The Fool which depicts a young man about to step off a cliff. He has his head in the clouds and yet this is a positive image that really points to trusting in the unseen reality that is the larger part of Life and of us. Many other spiritual traditions talk about the Holy Fool too. I believe that Jesus was called a fool by many…especially when he said, “Do not worry about tomorrow…Ask for what you want and believe that it is already given…” and other such radical teachings.

I still get caught in fearful, worried, anxious, thoughts…but I catch them sooner now. I’m moving toward my goal which is the full knowledge that there are no problems, only problem thoughts, and those can be changed as soon as I recognize them for what they are; mind-made stories.

Today, I think I’ll embrace the fool-hearty life; I’ll laugh, smile, and dance for no reason at all. I’ll refuse to see anything as a problem…just for today, and I invite you to join me.

“‘Then let go, dear one, and turn all over to Me, your Self, your God within you–not to some God apart or away off from you. For I, your Self, am here directing all, caring for all and have been waiting so long for you to give Me full charge. Can you not realize that I will permit only that to manifest which is for your greatest good? For remember I see and know what is that good, and long with a great longing to have you participate in it with Me.” pp 246 from “The Way To The Kingdom” published anonymously in 1932

 

one of my new paintings

one of my new paintings for sale on my artwork page

 

being great

chillin with Fred

Fred chillin’ on the couch

Just this morning, I had a conversation with someone who told me that a person we both knew made a very disparaging comment about me. My first reaction was somewhat defensive, although I didn’t fully voice what I was thinking because I’ve learned that if some apparently negative thing is in my life, then it is for me….even when it feels awful.

However, my mind did jump to the thought, “Why today!? I had just made a resolution to really step into a life of non-fear, non-judgement, and higher thought and now I have to deal with this.” And then another part of me, the deeper, calmer, more connected part, recognized the situation for what it was; a reflection of my own mind. So, this guy talked about me? Guess what? I’ve talked about him too, and what I said was none too nice either. If I really want to see myself clearly then I can never dismiss the situations, comments, or information that comes to me. It is always pointing me back to myself, and the bigger the emotional charge I get, the more it is telling me that I have some aspect of this hidden inside, underneath, or around, the very thing that I am upset about. Basically, if I am angry that someone is doing something to me, then I can be sure that I am doing the same thing somewhere in my life, either to them, to myself or to someone else.

When I woke up this morning, after having a wonderful dream that Meryl Streep was handing me large pieces of delicious chocolate cake with lemon frosting (if any of you out there interpret dreams, I’d love your feedback on that one!) I didn’t have a real focus for writing a post, and thought about doing some light-weight entry like, “Let’s all begin this new year by being present….blah, blah..” Not that being present isn’t the thing to do, but I really like to write about what feels real to me and I don’t enjoy platitudes and I don’t want to hide from myself any longer.

So my question today isn’t, “Why did he say that?” it is, “Am I ready to really stop talking/thinking negatively about people? Even if I feel upset by them? Even if I don’t particularly care for them? Even if they don’t like me and they voice that? Even if there is something burning inside that I am thinking, and want to say so bad that I feel like I’ll explode if I don’t?”

And my answer is “Yes. I am”. There really is no other place to go. I’ve come a long way in this area of life, but the conversation this morning showed me that I still have more to do or even better stated, I have less negative talking, thinking, and acting to do. I truly believe that we are all perfect underneath the shell, crust, and film, that has sort of built up around us as we live this human existence. I am starting to see that we don’t have to do anything to be great, we just have to stop doing un-great things.

So in this new year, I resolve to stop doing un-great things, to be easy on myself when I find myself doing un-great things, and to be easy on others who are doing un-great things too.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, fun, delightful, amazing, prosperous, and great 2015!

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”Eleanor Roosevelt

This entry was posted on December 31, 2014. 49 Comments

heart to heart

Sending thoughts of happiness and love (Griffin and happy grandmother, me, above!)

Sending thoughts of happiness and peace to all of you during this season of Love (Griffin and happy grandmother, me, above!)

I love this White Feather Farm community and cannot imagine my life without it (you). Lately I’ve been wanting to connect in a deeper way and the idea came to me this afternoon to offer prayer for anyone who needs or wants it. If you would like prayer for yourself, someone else, or a situation, please feel free to leave a comment with your request. I will join with you in spirit, and answer you with the words that come from my heart. Love to you all on this beautiful evening, Mary

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

Unique and wonderful you

Bodhi checking out 2 of my favorite Christmas decorations (characters from The Land of Misfit Toys).

Bodhi checking out 2 of my favorite Christmas decorations (characters from The Land of Misfit Toys).

Jack and I were watching a documentary last week called, Advanced Style; a wonderful film that showcases women over 60 who love fashion and seem to embrace not only far-out and fabulous clothing, but life as well. I feel like it would inspire anyone to get outside of their comfort zone as far as fashion goes, and it did this for me, but it also made me feel braver and more open.

I cannot even count the times when I’ve been shopping and an unusual piece of clothing would catch my eye, I’d try it on, love the colors, textures, and feel, only to return it to the rack because it seemed too “out there”. I know that the source of my apprehension was fear of rejection…fear that someone would look at me with raised eyebrows, a scowl, a frown, or god-forbid a sneer. The words, “Tone it down, Mary” still echo from somewhere in my past.

I wish that I could eradicate my fears by understanding where they came from, and I spent years trying to do that. Was it my parents, teachers, friends, an unfriendly priest or nun, who first implanted the idea in my subconscious that I was somehow too much and at the same time not good enough? Probably all of these people did some of that and the big question is not, “Why?” but, “So what?” Mine is not a unique story. I’d even venture to say that everyone I’ve ever talked to, no matter how successful, seemingly together, serene, or happy, could say that at some point in their lives they have felt unacceptable, not OK, not loveable, capable, or full of joy at being themselves. And I think if we were being honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we still have moments, or hours, when we feel like this. I know that I do.

We cannot think our way out of our irrational fears, we must walk through them. I’m not taking about ignoring guidance that says things like, “Don’t walk down that dark street” or “This person is not right for you” (no matter how much you want them to be). I’m talking about the feelings that say, “I’d LOVE to do this, but I’m afraid I’ll be rejected, criticized, or ridiculed” so I’ll just stay small, shut my mouth, watch from the sidelines, put the silk multi-colored shawl with the beaded fringe down and buy the brown scarf instead because I’m not really a “shawl person”. What does that even mean?

Who am I really?

I don’t think that is a question that can be answered. I heard a lecture by Alan Watts where he was taking about Bodhidharma who was asked that question and he replied, “I don’t know who I am. Planting flowers for the butterflies”, which seemed to say, “Do what brings you unspeakable joy. Don’t try to figure out the unhappy past. Do what you love now, and life will make sense.”

 

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.” Bodhidharma